Video by Anthony Lazon
By SAZOUN GRAYER
The Harvesters will advance to the finals of the Dallas Athletic Conference Region V tournament after beating the Cedar Valley Suns 84-80 Thursday night.
Forward D’Angelo Smith and Guard TaMarcus Butler led the way for Eastfield. Smith had 20 points and a pair of dunks that electrified the gym, while Butler boasted 22 points of his own.
“We played together,” Butler said. “We had to slow down sometimes and bring it up the court and we knocked down shots. That was a big key… We had to be … more aggressive and take care of the ball and get more possessions instead of turning it over.”
The Harvesters opened the game with an 11-4 run, but Cedar Valley’s defense limited Eastfield and forced them into some early mistakes. The Harvesters lost their momentum and trailed 37-41 going into halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, Eastfield wasted no time, scoring five unanswered points at the start of the second half to take back the lead.
“We played defense way better in the second half,” guard DaJuan Ridgeway said. “We tried to focus on getting three stops in a row and let the offense take care of itself. … We weren’t talking in the first half [but] in the second half we were talking a lot. I think we communicated better to make us play better.”
Eastfield began to pull away with it midway through the second half, going up by double digits. But with a few minutes remaining Cedar Valley started to come back, making it a two-point game with 20 seconds left. However, the Suns missed some shots in the final seconds and the Harvesters hung on to win.
“It’s exciting,” head coach Anthony Fletcher said. “We’ll be in our 21st championship game in the last 10 years. … The best thing is we get to host at home and it’s going to be exciting.”
The Harvesters will host the Richland Thunderducks at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the DAC Region V tournament finals. A win on Saturday secures them a spot in the NJCAA Division III national tournament in Rochester, Minnesota.